Power or Benevolence: Towards a New Participatory Photography Approach in the NGO Environment

Martin, Thomas Edward (2020) Power or Benevolence: Towards a New Participatory Photography Approach in the NGO Environment. MRes thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Power or Benevolence: Towards a New Participatory Photography Approach in the NGO Environment
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Martin,Thomas, Media and Cultural Studies, July 2020.pdf - Whole Document

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Item Type:Thesis (MRes)
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Abstract

In recent years participatory photography projects have been put to use by Non-Government Organisations around the world. Rooted in the emancipatory approach of the Brazilian theorist Paulo Freire(1970) these projects hand cameras to people in marginalised communities and ask them what they see. The participatory project’s benevolent aim is to speak to oppressive power relationships, empowering participants to visualize and share their problems from their own perspective. But is all as it seems? In this investigation I draw on my experiences as a participatory photography practitioner to explore how, in the context of contemporary neoliberal globalisation and its influence on NGOs, participatory methods are being pulled away from their emancipatory motive into an increasingly complex political relationship.

The practice-based element of this project takes place in Kigali, where I use Participatory Action Research (PAR) as a methodology to test a fresh approach to participatory photography. My aim is to build from current participatory photography method sand reconnect the process with its Freireian roots. To address the questions of power at play with visual representation in the NGO environment I bring Allan Sekula’s counter-political approach to photography (1984) to the educational ideas of Paulo Freire. At the heart of Freire’s concept is a process by which through inquiry, humans become more aware of the sources of their oppression. Freire defined this as ‘conscientisation’ (1970). Allan Sekula developed ideas about the ‘traffic in photographs’ (1984), the nature of power and representation, and proposed a potential for the reversal of the flow of power-knowledge. I seek to merge and adapt these methods and ideas to the present as a participant-led, live, arts-based political practice.

Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:44439
Deposited On:29 Mar 2021 15:31

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